Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend some smartphones that are specifically designed for seniors? My 75-year-old mother is interested in upgrading from a basic cellphone to a smartphone, but will need one that's very easy to operate.
I wrote about this topic just last year, but in the fast changing world of personal technology devices, there's a new crop of simplified smartphones that have recently hit the market that are better than ever for tech-shy seniors. Here are my three top options.
Doro 824 SmartEasy: Offered by Consumer Cellular, the new Doro 824 SmartEasy is one of the best, simplified smartphones available today. It starts with a bright, 5-inch high-resolution touch screen display that offers large icons and text, and customizable volume settings. Its simplified design pairs down the options, providing uncluttered, easy access to key contacts and frequently used features - such as the phone, text messages, the camera email and the Internet - right from the home screen. And, it provides help as you go along from the built-in coach.
It also offers a unique pre-installed My Doro Manager app that can also be downloaded by family or friends. This app provides a number of tutorials showing your mom how to enjoy her phone, and gives her trusted contacts the remote ability to help manage and adjust her Doro smartphone from their smartphone no matter where they are.
And for added convenience and safety, the Doro 824 provides three physical buttons on the front of the phone for quick, one-touch access to the home screen, recently used applications, and a back button that returns to the previous screen. And an "Emergency Alert" button on the back of the phone that will automatically dial one, predetermined contact in the event of an emergency.
The Doro 824 is sold online at ConsumerCellular.com, over the phone at 888-532-5366, or at any Target or Sears store for $200 with no contract.
Jitterbug Smart: Offered by GreatCall wireless, the new 4th generation Jitterbug Smart is much bigger than previous GreatCall smartphones. This phone is actually an Alcatel smartphone that's been rebranded and loaded with GreatCall's simplified user interface software.
It has a big, bright 5.5-inch high-definition touch screen, and a simple single-list menu on the home page that provides easy access to only frequently used features, along with one-touch access to contacts and other apps.
It also provides convenient voice typing for emails and texts, and offers a variety of optional health and safety features, like MedCoach, that sends medication and prescription refill reminders. Urgent Care, which provides unlimited access to registered nurses and doctors to answer health questions. And a 5Star medical-alert service that lets you speak to a live emergency-alert agent around the clock. These trained agents will confirm your mom's location via GPS tracking technology and dispatch help as needed.
Available online at GreatCall.com, or at Best Buy, Rite Aid, Sears and Walmart stores for $150 with a onetime $35 activation fee and no contract.
Samsung Galaxy Note5: While this smartphone isn't designed specifically for seniors, its large size (5.7-inch screen) and unique "Easy" mode setting that boosts the icon and font sizes and simplifies the home-screen layout, makes it a good option.
With the Easy mode turned on, the Note5's home screen will display only the time, date and local weather, and six frequently used functions. To access your 12 most important contacts, you would simply swipe the home screen to the right. And to access your 12 favorites apps, swipe to the left.
The Note5 (see Samsung.com/galaxynote5) is available with 32 and 64 GB of storage from the major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile) and some smaller carriers at prices ranging between $615 and $840 without a contract.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.